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British challengers set for exhilarating test in Belgian Grand National

Fact Of The Matter (right) winning at Cheltenham last December
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Jamie Snowden is relishing the adventure of running Fact Of The Matter in the historic Grand Steeple-Chase des Flandres at Waregem in Belgium (3.33) on Tuesday.

Known as the Belgian Grand National, the race serves up the ultimate chasing test with large fences and a daunting water jump across the Gaverbeek river taken in front of the stands at Waregem. 

Fact Of The Matter will be ridden by Gavin Sheehan and Snowden admitted he would have leapt at the opportunity to ride in the famous race when he was an amateur jockey.

"It might be a bit beyond me now but I would have loved to have had a go at it," said the trainer, who travels over on the morning of the contest. 

He added: "I saw what the water jump looked like in 1920 and luckily they've modified it since then. It should be exciting for Gavin. Races like this are such a buzz for jockeys and it will be an adventure."

Fact Of The Matter has been aimed at the race since winning the Cross Country handicap chase at Cheltenham in December, which is another leg of the Crystal Cup, a ten-race European cross-country series.

He was last seen finishing 14th in the Topham Handicap at Aintree but Snowden believes he has an excellent chance in the €100,000 contest if replicating his form last year.

"He took well to the fences at Cheltenham and has every chance if he can repeat his performances from the end of last year. It is over three miles and stamina is his forte," Snowden added. 

"My assistant Freddie [Mitchell] went out with him on Sunday morning and it was only a six-hour drive. He travelled over there brilliantly and has had a pop over the bank."

There will be British-trained runners in the field for the first time since 2008, with Van Gogh Du Granit, last seen finishing third in the Summer Plate, joining the 14-runner field for David Pipe.

Trainer Patrice Quinton has won the last seven runnings of the Belgian Grand National, and sends three to Waregem with Vol Noir De Kerser, Yo and Calisco De Kerser set to line up.

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I saw what the water jump looked like in 1920 and luckily they've modified it since then
E.W. Terms